It was the gift that kept giving.
Four years ago on Christmas morning, Henry and Lina Iacobelli opened a very special gift from their children – a donation in their name to Windsor Hospice.
For the Iacobellis, it was exactly what they had hoped for. For years they had quietly been going about their philanthropic business.
Apparently their children had been paying attention. They had witnessed firsthand their parents generosity within the community and realized nothing would make them happier than giving back to the community they had become an integral part of.
According to their daughter, Dee Remark, there was nothing her parents needed, so a charitable donation just made sense. And with a family friend passing at that time, Remark said the siblings agreed hospice was the charity of choice.
Following a tour of the Windsor facility, the entire Iacobelli family fell in love with the idea and realized the importance of such a facility for those nearing the end of their lives, as well as their families, and the annual gifts became a tradition of sorts.
"I lost my heart, mind and soul, so here we are," said Lina Iacobelli on Monday evening following the announcement of a $1 million donation by the Iacobelli family to the Erie Shores Hospice Campus.
"Hospice is one of the most wonderful works of mercy," said Henry Iacobelli. "Everybody deserves a hospice when their time comes. It allows them pride and dignity in their final days."
The Iacobellis admitted they're not comfortable in the spotlight when it comes to their charitable donations, but decided to go public with this one in an effort to encourage others in the community to follow suit.
"We are fortunate to be in the position we're in to make this donation," said Henry, "but each and every one of us has a responsibility to give back to our communities and set an example for the next generation."
"It's about everyone doing their part," he added.
Henry said he realizes most people aren't able to give such a large donation, but the amount isn't important because every donation matters.
In fact, he added, there are several other ways to give.
"If you can't donate money, give of your time," said Henry, one of the owners of Sun-Brite Canning Ltd. "I have no time."
"This is just phenomenal," said Carol Derbyshire, executive director of the hospice. "We're absolutely floored that the Iacobellis chose us to give such a sizeable donation."
"They are true champions of hospice values in this community," she added.
Following the announcement, family and friends were invited to the unveiling of the two plaques naming one wing of the facility the Iacobelli Family wing, while the other was named the Sun-Brite, Unico, Primo wing.
Joan McSweeney, member of the hospice board of directors, said the Iacobellis didn't hesitate when she sought their support in 2013 while doing a feasibility study regarding the possibility of constructing a residential hospice here in Leamington.
"Their generosity is overwhelming," said McSweeney of the Iacobellis. "You make our hearts smile."
McSweeney said their donation put them "so close to our goal I can taste it".
But, she added, there are still naming opportunities for seven of the 22 gardens surrounding the hospice.